Monday, August 27, 2012

On doing a Kickstarter campaign and being totally blown away the support

Yesterday, I launched a Kickstarter campaign. If you haven't heard of or participated in a Kickstarter project before, let me explain-- it's basically a way for creatives to "fundraise" for a really cool and exciting new project if they don't have the funds to spend up front. In return, everyone who contributes to the campaign gets to choose from a variety of really cool and exciting rewards, varying (in my case) from $1-$500. 

One of the original pieces for sale through the Kickstarter
campaign- "Wide open spaces - Centennial, WY"; 20" x 16"
Originally $425 + shipping, now $200 through Kickstarter.

For three weeks, leaving on October 9th, I'm going to be traveling across the pond on a European painting project, basically sketching, photographing and compiling information for a new series I'm working on. I'm going to be focusing on creating mixed media and acrylic artworks of different cemeteries throughout France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria. I'm going to be bus-ing, and train-ing, and backpack-ing through Europe with my sketchpad. The subject matter is a little darker than what I normally focus on, but the colors-- they're going to be bright and lively, as they usually are in my work. I want to focus on finding beauty in every place, and every thing-- even places that are usually considered a bit depressing and morbid. Why? Because I'm trying to do that with my life now, and personally as an artist, I paint the way I feel. Oscar Wilde says that "life imitates art far more than art imitates life", but I find that the two are highly dependent on each other. My art reflects my experiences, and since I started dedicating myself to my art full-time just a month ago, I feel like the world is full of beauty, and every second and every thing should be treasured. I'm so excited for this trip, and I can't wait to get started on this series.

"Hike beneath Byer's Peak - man & dog", original acrylic
painting on stretched canvas. 40" x 30", originally $1175 + shipping,
now $500 through Kickstarter.

I already purchased the plain ticket for my flights with miles from my former life as a flight attendant, so basically what I'm trying to raise money for is bus fare, train fare, lodging costs and of course, ART SUPPLIES. What you get in return varies from hand-drawn postcards, small sketches from my travels, signed giclee prints, and very-reduced prices on a few select original pieces and commissioned works. I'm on my 2nd day, and I've already raised nearly 1/3 of the $1500 that I set my project at. I've got to tell you, the support has been amazing.

"Untitled tree" originaly acrylic painting; 20" x 16"
Available through Kickstarter only for $200, originally $325 + shipping.

Thank you SO much to everyone who has already participated in the project and/or shared the word. You are amazing... and I MEAN that. You are amazing!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

On being an artist, all of the time, and the risks and rewards of giving up your security blanket

This week (on Wednesday, to be exact- 76 hours and 2 minutes ago, if you want to be picky) , I ended my year-long stint as an Admissions Counselor for an un-named online university, in order to save my sanity, not despise every second of my work week, and become a full-time artist. I gave up my 401K, my steady paycheck, and my access to company email, but I saved my sanity, rescued my soul from the depths of despair, and my ears no longer hurt from wearing a headset all day (I also won't have the quintessential "headset" mark on my hair-do).

More importantly, it gave me the kick in the pants I needed to force me into taking my art career seriously, not as an afterthought, but as my life. Even more essential, it freed up the time to allow me to create art that is thoughtful and experimental and heartfelt, instead of rushed into the 2 free hours I sometimes had in the evenings after I dragged myself home from my "day job", my ego bruised from being screamed and sworn at by "potential students" all morning, and feeling frazzled from having my boss' hot breath on my neck all afternoon.

Yeah, it's scary. It's really #*$@ing scary. But I had reached Desperation Point, where living as a droid, without hopes, dreams or goals, just searching for the next enrollment, was even more terrifying. Maybe I'm a wishful thinker, but I believe there needs to be time in life for laughter, joy, drinking a glass of wine in the early afternoon, enjoying a really rainy day by lounging on the couch under a threadbare blanket watching Seinfeld episodes and napping intermittantly, trying something new that ends up being stupid but really fun, planting a garden, eating a peach slowly, reading a good book, reading a mediocre book that teaches you something, going for a run, laying in the park, petting a friendly dog with a happy face, doing anything with anyone you care about, whether it's getting lunch or making an over-due phone call or having them over for a Sunday afternoon to watch "Sweet Home Alabama" for the 105th time. Those are things that are important, I think- not Sweet Home Alabama, that movie sucks- but the things that mean something when you realize your time in this world is much too short and can be yanked at any second.

I've gotten off-track, but it doesn't matter. What I wanted to express was the feeling of freedom I'm experiencing right now because I'm living for myself and my work, not for corporate America, the rat race, the gerbil spinning tirelessly in its wheel to make another dollar and buy another pair of shoes. That's not to say I haven't been awaiting this day for months, years even, and planning and saving, twirling around in sweaty sheets all night concocting a business plan (I really do that, which is why I often reference it- I'm a horrible person to share a bed with). I'm not pretending it's going to be easy in any regard, but I've always placed a higher value on experiences than tangible things. Maybe I'll have to start making my own wine out of spoiled fruits and also invite a friend over to share the experiment with me.

Do you read Tom Robbins? If you don't, read Tom Robbins. He is one of my favorite authors of all time (coming in a close second to Jane Hamilton from Rochester, WI. Do you read Jane Hamilton? If you don't, read Jane Hamilton.). His work is very strange and inappropriate, his characters are often pitifully oblivious and sometimes uncongenial, but they are unconditionally and unconventionally free. I came across this quote in his book "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas":

“There's no such thing as security in this life sweetheart, and the sooner you accept that fact, the better off you'll be. The person who strives for security will never be free. The person who believes she's found security will never reach paradise. What she mistakes for security is purgatory. You know what purgatory is, Gwendolyn? It's the waiting room, it's the lobby. Not only does she have the wrong libretto, she's stuck in the lobby where she can't see the show.”

Damn, that's good. Really true though, don't you think? Security is over-rated and underwhelming. Don't sell yourself short-- you are talented enough and amazing enough to be doing something that MEANS something to you. Even if I don't like you, you deserve that. You're a person.

Now, I'm not telling you to run out and quit your job if your boss is a micro-manager or the people you work with remind you of The Klumps, or you simply don't feel "fulfilled". You also don't have to do something you love-- I'm sure the guy who cleans the sewers at my parents' farm doesn't love his job-- but it needs to be something you can live with and something that allows you to sleep at night. Whether that's because you're living your passion, or know you're helping people, or taking care of your family, whatever. Whatever you do, whatever it is, there have to be enough good moments. To think of spending your life waiting around for them, to me-- that is terrifying.

The Klumps

If you don't know my work, my website is, and my facebook is I'm a travel artist and a sarcastic adventurer who often says things she shouldn't.